.- Last week’s decision by a federal bankruptcy judge in Spokane — that parish assets could be liquidated to pay victims of clergy sexual abuse — will not affect the Archdiocese of Seattle's commitment to continue seeking healing for victims and settlements in all clergy abuse cases, said Archbishop Alex Brunett in this weeks edition of the Catholic Northwest Progress.
Archbishop Brunett said the judge's ruling in the Spokane bankruptcy case requires thorough review by the nation's bishops and their attorneys prior to any response.
He noted that the Vatican has ruled that most assets in individual dioceses cannot be put up for sale to settle claims. The Vatican's ruling confirmed that, under Church law, churches, schools and other investments belong to individual parishes.
He reminded the faithful that each diocese is a separate financial entity, and that claims against one diocese do not affect another diocese.
To date, the Archdiocese of Seattle has reached settlements for 197 cases of clergy abuse over the past 18 years. The insurance companies have covered the majority of the associated costs, including financial settlements, counseling and attorney’s fees. When insurance coverage has been inadequate, the Archdiocesan Self-Insurance Reserve has covered the cost. And when the Self-Insurance Reserve is depleted, funds from the Archdiocesan General Reserve would be used instead.
The archbishop assured all Catholics in Western Washington that every effort is being made to ensure just settlements are reached in all clergy abuse cases and that no funds from the Annual Catholic Appeal and no parish funds have been or will be used to fund settlements.